Seeking authenticity single-handedly ensures that you will find just the opposite. In journalists’ search for the “authentic” to report on, they create inauthentic experiences simply by having preconceived expectations about what “authentic” actually is. In Sarah Sobieraj’s study, “Reporting Conventions: Journalists, Activists, and the Thorny Struggle for Political Visibility,” she describes the rocky relationship between journalists and political activists and social movement organizations. As a whole, journalists will not report on organizations they see as inauthentic – those who try to gain media attention through thought-out strategies such as writing press releases and employing media savvy spokespeople to represent them. Journalists “demand authenticity” of these organizations, ignoring those who do not meet their requirements (Soberaj 506). For example, according to Sobieraj, reporters tend to see indoor events held by social movements as “inauthentic,” while outdoor events are seen as more “real.” As a result, social movements looking to gain media coverage try to appease the reporters’ expectations by holding their event outside or whatever else they may feel is required of them in order to get coverage. What then, does this mean for authenticity in the first place? Is anything truly authentic if this “authenticity” is merely created with gaining the media’s attention in mind?
Yet contrary to their noble stand against the inauthentic when reporting on political and social activism, reporters write on inauthentic news in other ways all the time. Journalists consistently cozy up with politicians, reporting on media stunts left and right. As Joan Didion pointed out in her article, “Insider Baseball,” a great deal of political journalism is simply free advertising, and both the politicians and the journalists know it. Reporters look past the fact that they are covering PR stunts to keep the privilege of reporting on the campaign or politician in the first place. Kristoffer Holt mentions in the article, “Authentic journalism? A critical discussion about existential authenticity in journalism ethics,” that authenticity is “something that is manufactured and then approved by others, rather than an intrinsic quality of the free individual.” This statement certainly speaks true in political journalism, as authenticity is so sought after that it becomes artificial and meaningless. When authenticity is created solely for media attention, it isn’t actually authentic at all. How then, can journalists find true authenticity any more? Perhaps the first step to take is to stop searching for it in the first place.
The New York Review of Books. Web. 3 Apr. 2015. <http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1988/oct/27/insider-baseball/?page=1>.
Holt, Kristoffer. “Authentic Journalism? A Critical Discussion about Existential Authenticity in Journalism Ethics.” Authentic Journalism? A Critical Discussion about Existential Authenticity in Journalism Ethics. Web. 3 Apr. 2015. http://www.academia.edu/2605795/Authentic_Journalism_A_Critical_Discussion_about_Existential_Authenticity_in_Journalism_Ethics.
Sobieraj, Sarah. Reporting Conventions: Journalists, Activists, and the Thorny Struggle for Potlitical Visibility. Print.